This Pigpen is a Mess

Posted: June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Jonathan Papelbon has been the only consistent reliever for the Phillies.

In 2008, when Philadelphia claimed their first World Series championship since 1980, the bullpen was a key positive for the organization. Brad Lidge (2-0, 1.95, 41 Sv, 0 BSv), Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05), JC Romero (4-4, 2.75), and Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87) gave the Phillies a quintet of valuable arms at the back end of the ‘pen.

Flash forward to the present, and what Charlie Manuel has to work with resembles a law firm more than it does an MLB relief unit. BJ Rosenberg’s duly impressive 0.2 IP, 4 BB, 2 ER performance on Sunday night against Tampa Bay was just another nail in the coffin that represents a disappointing 2012 season.

Rosenberg, Michael Schwimmer, Antonio Bastardo (who took the loss in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader after surrendering a three-run bomb to Carlos Pena), Raul Valdes, and Joe Savery. This is the “motley crew” that Ruben Amaro has given Manuel to work with. Granted, Uncle Charlie could improve his decision making when it comes to their use. But, no one has ever confused the Phillies’ skipper with a decent game day manager. Still, Amaro knew this team had bullpen issues. Michael Stutes (out for the year after electing to have surgery on his right shoulder) and Bastardo were both valuable pieces to last year’s bullpen. But, relying on young pitching to carry you for 162 games out of the ‘pen is a losing philosophy. Jonathan Papelbon has been fantastic. But, with Cliff Lee pitching more like Wyatt “Watty” Lee than the 2008 AL Cy Young award winner and Kyle “4 inning max” Kendrick in the rotation; the Phillies need more out of their setup men.

The Phillies have suffered 8 walk-off losses on the road and none of them have come with Papelbon on the mound. If that doesn’t give you a moment’s pause, then what about this? The Phillies are currently 34-40 and sit 9 games out of the NL East lead (6 games out of the second wild card spot). Last year, the Phillies didn’t lose their 40th game until August 7th. If the Phillies could have won half of those 8 walk-off losses, they would be right in the thick of the playoff chase. Instead, they’re falling further and further behind. With a four game set against Pittsburgh followed by a three game series vs. Miami, the Phillies will need to capitalize against their rivals if they hope to improve their standing n the wild card race.

This relief corps is not a bullpen. No, a bullpen can be called upon to get outs when necessary. This unit can’t be trusted to do so. No, this is not a bullpen. It’s a pigpen. A unit of Jonathan Papelbon and AAAA scrubs. Perhaps one day Amaro will realize that it is not all about the superstars. But, the supporting cast you put around them.

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